Which airport best to connect through for Belize?

Old Feb 2nd, 2015, 10:33 AM
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Which airport best to connect through for Belize?

Hello! We'll be travelling to Belize from Canada and have three choices of airports for our connecting flight - Atlanta, Houston or Miami. I have also posted on the US forum but was hoping if anyone has gone through any of the above airports on their way to Belize, they could advise. Would love to hear any comments as to which airport would be preferable based on experience. We clear US Customs and Immigration here in Toronto before we leave so that might help save some time. I'm mainly concerned about airport/security efficiency. Is there an airport that stands out as one to avoid as far as connecting flights go? We have a few choices of layover time as well, anywhere from 50 minutes in Atlanta (which is great if all works, but I'm hesitant) to 3 hours or more in Houston or Miami. Thanks for any help!
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Old Feb 2nd, 2015, 11:05 AM
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For what it is worth, I've connected through all three airports on numerous occasions (for domestic flights) and have never had any significant problems. Miami can sometimes be problematic when connecting from an inbound international flight but that's not your situation.

Since you'll have already cleared US Immigration & Customs in Toronto your flight into the the US will be no different than any other domestic connection. That is, you should be able to have your luggage checked through to your final destination and you'll be able to deplane and go directly to the gate for your connecting flight with having to leave the secure area and reenter without having to clear the TSA checkpoint. So it doesn't really matter too much which airport you use - the experience will essentially be the same you'll just be doing it in a different airport.

Now, a 50 minute connecting time is doable assuming your inbound flight arrives on or near schedule but it is cutting a little close, especially if you are traveling in winter. On the other hand a 3 hour layover time is more than adequate to make a connection.

Remember two things:

1) Murphy's Law of Air Travel says the shorter your connecting time the more things go wrong - your inbound flight can be delayed, you'll have to sit on the tarmac waiting for the gate to open, you'll be sitting in the back of the plane and be the last to get off and your connecting flight will be leaving from the gate that is the furthest away from your arrival gate. Conversely, if you choose the longer connecting time your inbound flight will arrive early, you'll be one of the first to deplane, the gate for your departing flight will be just across the hall from your arrival gate and your outbound flight will be delayed.

2) This is most important - it is much better to have a longer wait between flights than to arrive at your connecting gate 1 minute after the plane pushes back from the gate.

No one can give you any assurances. You'll have to decide which works best for you.
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Old Feb 2nd, 2015, 12:42 PM
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All three are large airports. I wouldn't trust a 50-minute connection in any of them. As RoamsAround says, that doesn't leave you much wiggle room for any delays.

Keep in mind that whichever airport you choose will also likely be your connection for your return flight to Canada. On the trip back home, you will have to clear US Immigration, retrieve your bags, go through customs, and go back through security to get to your flight to Canada. You will need plenty of time for those formalities.
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Old Feb 2nd, 2015, 01:01 PM
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2 hours is about right for a layover time.

We've had bad experiences at all three, and okay experiences at all three.

What time of year are you flying? I would generally go with the one that has the least risk of weather-related delays. If it's February I'd go Miami, if it's September I'd go Atlanta, etc.
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Old Feb 2nd, 2015, 02:33 PM
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The last time we went through Houston they had just started a new program where you scan your own passport at a kiosk. The kiosk also takes your photo and asks you all the standard questions about if you've been on a farm or have any fruit, etc. with you. The kiosks seemed to be replacing all the uniformed folks that we used to wait in line for.
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Old Feb 2nd, 2015, 02:52 PM
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Thank you all for your thoughtful replies. I had meant to indicate we're flying on a Monday in May. However, I agree that 50 minutes might just be pushing it no matter when or where we fly. And that Murphy does seem to follow airlines/passengers around. Appreciate your comments!
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Old Feb 2nd, 2015, 03:52 PM
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I have made those tight connections in Houston several times; once my incoming flight was delayed nearly half an hour and I was tired for days from how hard I had to run with a full carryon and several big laptops to donate in my day pack. I made it, though! I don't know Houston and try to avoid Miami unless it is impossible to do so - we have always had really long waits and delays going in and out of that airport.

Good luck!
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Old Feb 3rd, 2015, 06:11 AM
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I've made those connections at Houston and Miami. No problems at either.
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